Over a year ago in Venice, I released a book into the wild. It was my solution for what to do with my "brain candy" novels after I finished reading 'em...
Poor things! No used bookstore in Venice would take them (What can I say? I have eclectic tastes...) and I had received a formal protest from my spouse about continuing to schlep tons of paper back and forth across the Atlantic. But what could I do? I couldn't just throw them away! *shudder*
BookCrossing turned out to be the perfect solution!!
What is "BookCrossing," you may ask? According to the 2004 edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, bookcrossing is "the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise."
And it's a completely free service! As their FAQs say, "I'm looking at your site here, and I can't believe what I'm reading. Do you actually want me to give away my books?" To which they reply, "Ummm, yes...
Trust us on this one. Registering your books with BookCrossing.com, then giving them to a friend, a charity, or otherwise releasing them "into the wild" and following their progress and travels, is infinitely more fulfilling than the small satisfaction you'll get by looking at your books in your bookcase every day. As Austin Powers would say, "It's karma, baybee!"How does it work? Once you finish reading a book, you can sign onto the BookCrossing website and "register" it. The site will then give you a code number to write in or on the book, along with instructions for future readers. You then "release" it in a public place* to be discovered and hopefully adopted and read by some well-meaning passerby, who ideally would also log into the site and report where they'd found the book and where they planned to release it next. And so on...
When I "release" books in Venice, I actually print up bilingual labels in English and Italian with these instructions... But BookCrossing isn't completely alien to Italians. There are over 13,000 "BookCrossers" in Italy, and they even have their own website!
But you don't have to wait until you just find one of these treasures lying about! You can go hunting for BookCrossing releases! I get email alerts whenever a book has been released in one of my hometowns, and you can also check in periodically to the website to see what's new. Venetian releases, for example, can be tracked here.
How many released books "check in"? According to the website, only about 20-25%. But don't give up hope! Some have actually gone years before "reappearing." Case in point, The Bone Pedlar, an historical mystery I released over a year ago in Venice. It just turned up in a Salvation Army in Connecticut, by a person who's vowed to read it and then "release" it back into the wild herself. Via con Dios, librito!
*Needless to say, in this day and age, we should be prudent about simply leaving things around unattended (even books!)
Please "release" responsibly! :-)
Categories: Books, Italy